House on Elm Lake (2017) UK Dir: James Klass
Becca Hirani, Andrew Hollingworth, Tara MacGowran, Tony Manders
The Jones family move into a seemingly idyllic lakeside property in the British countryside, having purchased it for a knockdown price due to it having been the scene of a ritualistic family annihilation three years earlier. Hayley (Hirani) hopes the fresh start will repair their marriage after husband Eric’s (Hollingsworth) infidelity.
No sooner has the family settled in than things start to go bump in the night, daughter Penny (Faye Goodwin) acquires an imaginary friend and Eric’s personality becomes more and more aggressive. When Hayley begins to start witnessing apparitions she begins to delve into the dark history of the house along with a psychic investigator.
So far, so THE CONJURING, and indeed this mini budget British horror flick doesn’t stray too far from any of the tried and tested tropes of the haunted house/demonic possession sub genres.This is likely to be a marmite movie for some. It doesn’t really do anything groundbreaking with its well worn set up, and becomes a little too distracted with reliance on jump scares rather than building a sense of dread. On the plus side it is a well written and directed example of its sub genre, with lead actress Becca Hirani in particular giving a great performance as Hayley, riven with self doubt, but determined to protect her family against increasingly deranged hubby Eric (Hollingworth, channelling his best Jack Torrance.)
Filmed in eight days on a budget of £3000, the finished production transcends it’s microbudget origins, delivering an effective and at times genuinely unnerving haunted house chiller. Unlike most of its higher budgeted US produced counterparts, has a bleak and cold atmosphere that you only really find in British made horror flicks or those set in these rain swept isles (Cronenberg’s THE DEAD ZONE is an excellent exception). Lacking the slick glossiness of similar US fayre like THE CONJURING and SINISTER ends up being no great disadvantage to the film, rather acting as a boon to those of us who prefer our horror with a sliver of ice running through it. Fans of haunted house and demonic possession flicks will find a solid if unoriginal addition to the sub genre here.